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Raymond Domenech Should Be Fired

The French participated in Euro 2008, but only in name. Their performance was a still, lifeless damp squib. The blame lies with one man, Raymond Domenech.France missed their renowned number 10, but, more pressing was the lack of any number 10 in Domenech’s formation. The French used a depressed 4-4-2, with two holding midfielders and two forward wingers. Because Makelele and Toulalan offer virtually nothing going forward, they had a wide gap in the middle of their attack, allowing the opposition to clamp down on the wingers with impunity. The strikers never settled in up front, and barring a few brilliant nutmegs, their service was cut off completely.Domenech had alternatives. He could have switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, replacing a striker with a playmaker in the middle to direct traffic. Both Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri are ideally suited to that role. Liverpool play a similar way with Steven Gerrard playing behind Fernando Torres. He played this part of the time against Holland, and despite the scoreline, it was the one match where the French looked like they were going to score a goal.Even if the French manager wanted two strikers, he could have subbed either Makelele or Toulalan for a midfielder that offered anything going forward. Patrick Vieira had he been healthy (and five years younger) could have provided that dynamism. Unpicked Arsenal man Matthieu Flamini would also have pushed forward without sacrificing defensive integrity.The formation doomed France’s attack from its inception, and, more damningly, it did not keep the opposing team from scoring, which was its intention. This was largely thanks to Domenech’s relentless tinkering with the back four. In the first match, he chose the tried and tested quartet (Abidal, Thuram, Gallas, Sagnol). Against the Dutch, Domenech reversed course and started Evra instead of Abidal. In the final match, he went batty, dropping Thuram and Sagnol in favor of Abidal (at center half) and Clerc on the right. We all saw how well that worked.The nadir of the French failure was Domenech’s shameful performance during the Italy match. After Abidal was sent off, France were down 1-0. They needed to score two goals to win, yet Domenech takes off an attacking player, Nasri, to bring on a “defender” Boumsong. If you want another defender, take off a holding player, but why, when you need to score two goals, is your primary action to shore up the defense? Where is the heart? Where is the ambition? If not in a must win situation in a major international tournament, then when?Most international managers could only dream of the talent at Domenech’s disposal. How many managers have Henry, Benzema, and Anelka to call on? How many managers have Ribery and Nasri in attacking midfield positions? How many managers have so much depth at every position that Arsenal stalwarts Gael Clichy and Mathieu Flamini would not even make the squad? That team had the talent to win the tournament and did nothing. Their performance was gutless and inexcusable.The French Football Federation announced that they will wait until July to determine Domenech’s fate. But, why wait until July? The question is not whether Domenech should be fired. It is what redeeming quality he has that makes him worth keeping.Look at that stache!

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  1. Kartik

    June 19, 2008 at 10:27 am

    It’s well known in France Domenech was essentially thrown overboard by a player coup who then looked to Zizzou for leadership. The FFF like every FA is full of politics so he was retained, but a majority of the french players do not like him and this is well documented.

  2. kat kid

    June 19, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Clichy Mexes Gallas Adibal


    Ribery Malouda



  3. betsy's bolton bum baster

    June 19, 2008 at 8:30 am

    How do you know they tuned out the coach? Were you there in the locker room? If they didn’t listen to him in 06 then why do you think he’s still the coach?

  4. tentonipete

    June 19, 2008 at 7:44 am

    france lacked drive and commitment in midfield. nobody to grab a game by the scruff of the neck, which is exactly what flamini has been doing all season.

  5. Ric

    June 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Spot on.

    This tournament did show me one thing about the French: Their players must have been very good in the past, because Domenech is terrible. Terrible selection, terrible tactics. He needed to beat Italy yesterday, and played two holding midfielders and brought back Abidal, who was horrible against Netherlands. He got what he deserved. Now, he deserves to be sacked.

  6. wanderer_abroad

    June 18, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Excellent piece! I couldn’t agree more with your article. Domenech was completely to blame for France’s exit. Anyone who says that is harsh look at the facts…
    1) Ommitting Flamini for a 36 year-old Makele, injured Vieira and Toulalan who in all honesty is an ordinary player at best.
    2) Ommitting Bacary Sagna. The biggest sin out of all in my opinion. Choosing Sagnol, poor for the last 3 or 4 seasons, and Clerc, desperately ordinary, ahead of him is just incompetant.
    3) Ommitting Clichy. Ok this was a hard one as picking 2 out of Evra, Abidal and Clichy is difficult enough, but leaving out the most in-form of the three isn’t very smart.
    4)Ommiting Mexes. This is not surprising as Mexes is about the most underrated defender in the world. It isn’t too sensible, however, to choose Jean Alain Boumsong ahead of him….because we all know how much of a quality player Boumsong is!
    5) The tactics, oh the tactics! Now this is where it gets interesting. Although Mr tyduffy has already explained most of this I think its interesting to note how tactically naive Domenech is. I’m sorry but I have waited years to say that but have kept my mouth shut due to the berating I would get. However, has France ever played good free-flowing football under Domenech. He is a bad coached who has relied totally on the quality of players to bail out his bad decision making. How, with some of the best attacking players in the world at your desposal, and aging and vunerable back line, do you decide that the best tactic is to play defensively?

    Having said all this I must admit that being English, the French pains have been a joy to watch. Lets hope they last a while longer so they make England look a bit better…yeah, that might be one wish too far!

  7. tyduffy

    June 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I agree with the portion on Zizou.

    Unlike much of my Gooner brethren, I don’t think Flamini is the second coming of Christ. But, he has a high work rate, covers a lot of ground, and offers something going forward which France could have used. He is also a versatile sub who can fill in at multiple positions.

  8. Kartik

    June 18, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    The players tuned Domenech out after the draw with South Korea in WC 2006 and turned to Zizzou as their leader and he helped carry them.

    This is a good piece with the exception of the mention of Flamini who gets some love it seems because he has the fortune of playing for Arsenal.

    Pl;ayers not picked that could have helped France:

    Ben Arfa
    A. Diarra
    perhaps even the forgotten P. Chimbonda who is eligible to play for Guadelope in CONCACAF competitions and France in FIFA events (the best of both worlds- a true rarity in international football.)

    Flamini would not have added anything.

    Ben Arfa not being chosen was particularly galling. Benzema and Ben Arfa playing off of each other would have been as awesome for France as it is for Lyon!

  9. betsy's bolton bum baster

    June 18, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Well tell me something I don’t know Captain Obvious. Anyways, Domenech isn’t to blame for everything!! Get real dude. He sent the team to the WC final game in 2006. If Ribery didn’t get injured I think France would’ve definitely shown more fight against Italy. Some bad luck with injuries to Vieira as well. Ultimately he must be fired, but he is not the only person to be blamed. Don’t be silly.

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